Clear Spring (SC) Fire-Rescue District, housed in an old school building that was a local landmark, was in dire need of a new headquarters fire station that could meet the needs of a 21st century fire department. It hired DP3 Architects Ltd. to design and build a new HQ station, and the resulting structure was a Fire Industry Education Resource Organization (F.I.E.R.O.) Recognition Award winner for its design.
“The department reached out to us because of our fire station design experience,” says Michael Pry, senior associate architect at DP3 Architects, “and wanted us to look at their existing station, a former elementary school that had been modified over time with a couple of bays, to determine if it could be renovated or expanded. But the building as it was originally built was never meant to be a fire station, so it made more sense to build a new headquarters station on land the district owned next door to their current station.”
Pry points out that the fire district covers a growing area where a lot of development is taking place. “The property is on a rural two lane country road, but the state Department of Transportation (DOT) is designing a new five-lane roadway that took some land away from the front of their station, so we had to work with DOT to tie in with the realignment and the new highway,” he notes.
Pry says that the new 16,000-square-foot Headquarters Station No. 1 is located on property adjacent to the original station, which allowed the department to continue operating from the old station during construction of the new one. “It was a challenge to keep the old station open and build a new one next door,” he says, “and then tear down the old station and put in a parking lot in that area for the new facility. We did this job as construction manager at risk with Hogan Construction as the General Contractor.”
Michael Huppman, chief of Clear Spring Fire-Rescue, says the station sits on Woodruff Road, a main East-West corridor from Greenburg to Spartanburg. “We’re primarily a bedroom community with about 62 commercial structures,” he says, “and our population has exploded over the last few years. We are faced with maintaining a response with 400 new homes going in this year.” Huppman notes that Clear Spring is a combination department with 15 full-time paid firefighters, a chief, deputy chief, administrative assistant, and 12 part-time firefighters, as well as 25 volunteer firefighters operating out of two stations. The department runs three engines, a quint, a rescue, a squad/brush truck, two utility trucks, and two command vehicles.
Huppman says that when the old school was demolished, DP3 saved pallets of bricks and hardwood flooring from the auditorium. “The bricks were repurposed and installed around the base of a flagpole in front of the station where the next planned phase is to build a two-tier brick bench seating area with a brass memorial plaque,” he points out. “The hardwood flooring will be installed in a section of the memorial hallway, where DP3 designed in a wall that features material from the old school, and a montage of photographs showing the development of Clear Spring Fire-Rescue District.”
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Pry says the new single story headquarters station has three drive-through, double-deep apparatus bays, “And because a key aspect to the department was to have the station be the heart of the community, we designed a community/training room with access to the public but locked away from the rest of the station. It can handle 50 people in its training configuration, and there’s also a triage room off the lobby where people can be checked for high blood pressure or other issues as well as a public restroom off the lobby.”
The history wall is located in a long hallway running between the community/training room and the dorm area where access is limited to fire personnel. DP3 Architects designed the station with six private bunk rooms, and four unisex restrooms, each with a shower, sink, and toilet. “The dorm area is centrally located and completely landlocked in the center of the station with no outside walls,” Pry observes, which is how the department wanted it. The dorm area has direct access to the center of the apparatus bays.
Along one wall of the apparatus bays are various work areas, including a laundry/decon room, SCBA cascade air fill room, turnout gear locker room, workshop, and maintenance space. Above is a training mezzanine open to the bays that has removable railings where firefighters can practice belay exercises, bail out techniques, and ladder training and use doorway and window props.
The kitchen/dining/dayroom area can handle dining for up to 16 people, plus there are eight barstools along an island/counter. “The kitchen is outfitted with high-end residential/commercial appliances,” Pry notes, “and has three pantries, one for each shift, as well as a lot of daylighting to a covered patio.” At the back side of the station is a fitness room that’s located on a common hall that has windows to both the hallway and the exterior of the building, and offices for the administrative staff, chief, captain, lieutenant, fire marshal, commissioners, and another restroom.
Pry says the apparatus and work bays on the $3.2 million station are preengineered steel structures with block walls, while the remaining part of the station is slab on grade, stick-built wooden walls, and roof construction. The roof is a single-ply membrane, with a low slope from front to back, that holds the station’s mechanical equipment, with separate air conditioning/heating systems for the training room, day/living/dorm areas, and office areas.”
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Editorial Advisory Board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.